When I was a little girl, I lived in Virginia. We moved there when I was just eight months old from Italy, and stayed there until 1994, when my dad received orders for Texas. We spent the last three years in Virginia living in Naval housing, right next to the Little Creek Naval Base. I loved that house. It was a big house and had two floors, which I liked, despite the fact that I found the second floor really creepy at night. Our house was at the end of the street, and I could see the gate to the base right from our fence.
The thing about living in Naval housing is that you didn’t always have a say on the appearance of your house. You couldn’t change the tile, and if you painted the walls, you had to paint them back to a boring white by the time you moved out. One day in Spring 1993, when I was not quite nine, a mountain of mulch was dumped unceremoniously on our lawn. I can’t quite remember why – I suppose the mulch was being used for maintenance of the shrubbery surrounding the base, and for some reason, the powers that be decided that our yard (which was the largest on the street) would be the perfect dumping ground for a large pile of the mulch. Of course, neither of my parents were consulted on this decision. One day we just woke up, and BAM, there was a giant hill of mulch in our yard.
The pile was huge. I remember it towered above me. My dad would have to chase the neighborhood daredevils away from our yard, since riding up the mountain with a bike became a popular pasttime. The mulch was heavily scented in a wonderfully woodsy way – even to this day, if I smell a little mulch, I automatically think of my Virginia lawn.
My dad complained about the eyesore in his lawn, and eventually the mulch was taken away in increments, until only a red crater was left. My brother and I would go outside and pretend we were on Mars.
I was going through old pictures tonight and came upon a picture of the mulch mountain. I was incredibly disappointed by what I saw.
Then I found this picture:
My memory had not deceived me after all! The mountain was just as tall and delightfully ugly as in the memory I had carried for eighteen years.
It’s nice to know some things were as exactly as you remembered it.